Stephanie's Reviews > Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman
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Jul 01, 2011

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Bart Ehrman used to be an evangelical Christian. He even went to Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, following that up with graduating with a PhD and Master's of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. But what he learned along the way changed everything.

Biblical texts are riddled with issues and controversies. At the time these texts were being written, very few people could actually read. (Ehrman even quotes statistics that at the height of the classical period in Athens, a time and place we think of as being full of deep thinkers and amazing new ideas, literacy rates were somewhere around 10-15%. Not high. 85-90% of the population was illiterate. Think about that.) And even scribes didn't have to be functionally literate, they just had to be able to copy writing from one scroll to another. They didn't need to understand what they were writing. Now, imagine what kind of mess you'd make if you had to copy, say, Russian, Chinese, or Hebrew, all without understanding what you were copying. There would be mistakes and variations between texts, wouldn't there? Just like there are in the copies of the books of the Bible. Ehrman says that today, scholars argue that there are between 200,000 to 400,000 errors, changes, and variations between manuscripts. On page 90, he says, "There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament." Heavy stuff.

At one point, he talks about the way scribes wrote. In some manuscripts, there are no spaces between words, no punctuation, and he gives us some example sentences that might cause problems today, such as:


Is God now here, or is He nowhere?


Did I see a table bursting with food, or did I see something that would be better suited to a cartoon? See how this style of writing would cause problems?

Misquoting Jesus can get a little dry at times, a little academic, but it's worth the read if you're interested in religion and history. If you want to believe the Bible is inerrant and unchanging, this is definitely not the book for you, but if you're curious as to how the Bible evolved from handwritten scrolls to the mass-produced texts of today (although, be warned, this book has nothing to do on how or why the books that ended up in the Bible got there; that's a whole different book!), this is definitely an eye-opener.
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Kenny Bell PLEASE READ* Does Bart Erhman provide the resources or evidence to where he claims "We don't have the original bible" and "we dont know who wrote the bible"? He just says this thing without pointing readers where to look this up. And it was also weird to me that if we dont have the original bible then what did they use to translate to English?

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